Binford medical complex takes another punch

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The anchor tenant in the Binford Medical-Professional Office Complex at the corner of 65th Street and Binford Boulevard has closed temporarily, citing a lack of other tenants in the high-profile medical building. The shut-down is the latest in a string of setbacks for what was to have been a five-building, $29 million development.

The Binford Immediate Care Center halted operations April 30 but plans to re-open in the future, wrote Lynn Schenck, the vice president of operations for parent company Bloomington-based Unity Physician Group, in a letter to patients.

"It has been difficult being the only tenant in an unfinished development," she wrote in the letter. "However, we believe the redevelopment and commercial enhancement of the Binford Boulevard area are important; thus our hope is to reopen the Binford Immediate Care Center once the developer of the Binford Medical Complex is able to complete the building and secure other tenants."

Schenck was unavailable for an interview, and a spokeswoman for the company, Gwen Leahy, declined to comment further.

The immediate care-center is really one of two tenants in the building. The other is Seward Sales Corp., which leases 2,200 square feet of space. An additional anchor tenant, a radiology firm, is scheduled to move in but can't until the building is finished.

The urgent care center leases 4,310 square feet of space in the 47,000-square-foot building, the first of five structures planned for the 17-acre medical campus project being developed by Ken Schmidt of Binford Medical Developers LLC.

While the care center continues to pay rent on the space even while closed, the temporary closure deals a blow to the project, which has faced a series of hurdles since plans were announced three years ago.

The project's main lender, USA Capital, declared bankruptcy in April 2006. Only one building has been erected, and it is incomplete.

In a 2006 IBJ interview, Schmidt said he hoped to have construction on all five buildings completed by January 2009 to create a "one-stop" medical plaza that would include a pharmacy, ambulatory surgery center, dental offices and room for other specialties.

Schmidt says hope for financing looms on the horizon even though the project is stalled.

"Because of USA Capital's legal and financial issues," he said, "the project is in limbo; it's been in limbo for 32 months, long before the economy had problems."

Prior to the financing debacle, 26 tenants had signed on to be a part of the complex, Schmidt said, but 24 pulled out because construction was behind schedule and the required number of tenants hadn't moved in as was required in many leases.

Despite the problems, Lori Olivier, the president of the Greater Allisonville Community Council, said the location still holds promise.

"I don't know why it has not taken hold," she said. "I still think it's a very viable project because of the volume of traffic."

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